Or, so the saying goes…
But, what if the old and new could live harmoniously, side by side? Here in Brisbane, Queensland we’re blessed with an incredible array of older homes. Think, iconic wrap-around verandas, high set bungalows, and multi-gabled roofs. All over our vibrant city, you will see fine examples of homes which have seamlessly embraced the old, while enjoying the best of modern comfort. So, how do they do it, and how can you do it too?
Reality television would have us believe that going in with a sledgehammer and a tin of paint is step one. However, it’s crucial to establish a clear strategy before knocking out walls! There are many considerations to take into account. For example, is the home heritage listed? Are there safety issues, like asbestos? And, what’s your budget? Will you remain faithful to the original style, or contemporise the project?
Opening your plan
Once you have a clear plan in place, it’s time to set about achieving it. The floor plan in an older home is often radically different to the open plan style we’re familiar with, and either can work, depending on your style, and your lifestyle. If in doubt as to whether to keep the old aesthetic or embrace a new style, ask a professional.
Once you have the dull stuff out of the way, it’s time to get excited about your project! There are many ways to combine the old and the new. Some small changes can include the use of modern décor to contrast against older designs. Consider using lighting to bring a fresh feel. Similarly, you might decide to contemporise the bathroom and add (or keep) a statement piece, like a clawfoot bath, or a timber vanity, to maintain the integrity of the original style.
Change in all the right places
If you are planning a more significant change, think about adding detail to the ceiling. You can change the feel of a home through exposing beams or piping or even adding colour. Another way to entirely change the aspect of your home is to add light through windows. The addition of casement windows can stay within the style of the house while adding warmth, and a simple yet quality finish.
However you decide to proceed, mixing modern and traditional design when renovating can leave you with a beautiful, unique home which combines the classic style of an older house with the modern convenience and simplicity of a new home.
New space, old favourites
We’ve all got them. Old favourites in the style department we can’t let go of, ideas that permeate our consciousness and leave such a positive lasting imprint we replicate them again and again. As the saying goes, imitation is the highest form of flattery. And, these trends are classics for a reason. Some styles will never go out of fashion; include them in your space for a warm and reassuring feel. As a bonus, future buyers will appreciate the familiar aesthetic. Here’s our classic inspiration to get the wheels turning.
Create a comfortable home
Cosy plaid patterns add a homely feel to any space, creating warmth and contrast against any feminine styled space. These can be as simple as a cushion, or a throw, but if you’re loving plaid, you can go all out with a wallpapered feature wall.
For the practical amongst us, built-in shelving is not only aesthetically pleasing but saves space. Shelves offer utility without the bulk of added furniture. Additionally, built-in storage is recognised by real estate agents as a convincing selling point.
Is there anything more comforting than a fireplace? Even here in sunny Queensland, a fireplace adds a homeliness that can’t be beaten. A fireplace adds a rustic charm that goes beyond practical use. It can be the focal point of a bedroom, living space, or even a bathroom!
Speaking of bathrooms, it doesn’t get more classically styled than a soaking tub. There are thousands of options for a tub which will add a sense of luxury to your home. If you want to go all out, you can pair it with marble detailing for a luxe bathroom experience.
Stripes are an easy way to add a sense of classic style to your home. Perfect in the bedroom, or dining or living areas, striped upholstery is a favourite for a reason. Simple, straight lines, in a beige or navy blue, add timeless elegance to a room.
Bright, white kitchens are here to stay. Something about the clean lines and shiny surfaces screams classic elegance and adds a cozy feel. Just remember to install bright and beautiful light fixtures to balance and enhance the pure white surfaces.
How to make it happen
If you’re building, renovating or making small design changes, it’s fun to embrace the new. But don’t discount ideas because they’ve been around a while. Classic styles which have stood the test of time can combine with contemporary design. Talk to us about having someone out to your home for a personalised consultation.
The big reveal…
2017 has been a year of adventurous design trends. Driven by the popularity of shows like The Block, House Rules and Instagram (the oddly addictive home of #homeinspo), renovators and builders alike are taking more risks. Homeowners are ditching the boring beige paint and realising their independence. There’s a crazy, cool world of design out there! Practicality is always a factor. However, now more than ever, your home can can reflect who you are. Be bold!
Kitchens are the new black
Once the forefront of all things white and shiny, kitchens are taking a turn to the dark side. Elegant in their simplicity, noir kitchens can be as subtle as black cabinetry offset by white benchtops and sleek, stainless steel appliances. Or, take it right to the ebony limit with the inclusion of black sinks and tapware. While black kitchens lend themselves to modern styles, country charm can be added through natural timber accents. The popularity of the indoor plant is here to stay and makes the perfect accompaniment to an all-black kitchen.
Wrap your walls
All that’s old is new again with wallpaper making a(nother) return. A quick and easy way to add a little quirk to your home, wallpaper in 2017 is less your Grandma’s china, and more your local café’s artwork. Wallpaper can add to or change the texture of a room, with high-quality papers giving a stone, brick, or wood effect at a tiny portion of the price of the real deal.
It’s hip to be round
Soft, curvaceous lines, meet 1970’s colour schemes and décor, as straight lines and hard edges move to the back. Superbly comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing, round furniture, be it tables and lounges, or even entertainment units and coffee tables, have made a comeback in a big way. This design trend looks to be here for quite some time.
The softest touch
Highly durable, but beautifully soft and delightfully snug, suedes and velvet are the fabrics to include in your living areas and bedrooms. Creating warmth, and a wonderful grounding feel in a home, velvet and suede can give a vintage feel or a modern touch depending on their use. Try a charcoal grey for contemporary homes or a splash of your favourite colour.
There’s never been a better time to embrace the fun and daring of interior design. Incorporate your unique style into your home. Go on, be brave!
Go with the flow…
Landscaping in the Australian climate can be challenging, but it’s a challenge worth embracing. As with so many things in life, the trick is to go with it, not against it. It all starts with choosing the right plants!
Enter, natives. Plants which are native to Australia offer a plethora of advantages when it comes to creating eye-catching and practical landscapes.
Hardy, and used to the ever-changing extremes of the Australian climate, native plants take little maintenance to thrive.
The sheer size of our country means we have a diversity of climates and soils. Choosing the right natives for your location is essential. What works on the western side of our great southern land, may not necessarily work on the east coast.
However, there are a few incredible native plants which can thrive everywhere in Australia. Not least of all the resplendent, and highly coveted Kangaroo Paw.
Functional, and often economical, native plants require significantly less water than most introduced species. Particularly for Queenslanders, it’s good to know that they can hold their own through the harshest summer.
Spoilt for choice
Native shrubs, trees and flowers grow in harmony and offset each other beautifully. But perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of landscaping with natives is the sheer variety.
From the iconic Wattle Tree through to the distinct Australian Grass Tree and our small flowering Boronias, there are natives to suit any landscaping space or style. Natives come in an array of colours too, from the golden hues of the Orange Heliconia to the incredible bronze tones of the Cordyline Green Magic.
Australian-made gardens are also excellent for our environment. Native plants bolster our stingless bee population and attract and provide food for birds, butterflies and lizards. Connect animal and plant populations in your own backyard!
Per our edible gardening post, we don’t offer a gardening service. However, it helps to have a fresh space to start your garden project. Award Winning Group can create a blank and ideally structured canvas for your gardening pleasure.
Kondo your construction…
There’s no doubt that when it comes to contemporary home trends, minimalism is hugely popular and the success of Marie Kondo’s, ‘The Japanese Art of Tidying Up’, is a testament to this fact. Marie’s publication has inspired a cult-like following of avid fans asking if each of their possessions ‘sparks joy’. We know this trend can be valuable inside the home, but what about the big picture? Can this approach be applied to renovation and construction? Absolutely.
Discover the benefits
The benefits of embracing minimalist building trends are inviting, from the upshot of creating eco-friendly living solutions to having less clutter to clean. However, perhaps the most exciting thing is the aesthetically pleasing nature of the designs. Clean lines, continuous finishes and a tendency towards natural materials leads to the creation of buildings which are as much a treat for the eye as they are for the environment.
Minimalist buildings focus on practicality and natural beauty. They allow you to use every space of your home for an intended purpose, with a ‘waste not, want not’ philosophy that inspires mindful living.
Tiny home, big life
So, how can you make minimalism part of your home renovation? One way to embrace this trend, particularly in well-populated urban areas, is through the construction of a ‘tiny-home’. Tiny homes are not only cost-effective to build but have the bonus of being incredibly low-cost to run, eliminating all that is unnecessary and focusing solely on shelter and use. Ranging in style from incredibly modern, to rustic nature cabins, the tiny home offers affordability, and functionality, with environmental friendliness thrown in to boot.
Of course, not everyone is ready for the tiny-home lifestyle. A tiny-home need not be your primary place of residence, it could be a granny flat, holiday home or studio office. A minimalist escape! Create an area in your home to clear your mind; a space that doesn’t take any extra effort to clean or maintain, but that provides you with peace.
Landscapes with purpose
Another great way to embrace minimalism is through fuss-free landscaping solutions. Pay particular attention to fencing and hedges – ensuring clean lines. Use neutral colours and natural materials, such as stone, to create a tranquil ambience.
There’s such a vast range of natural stone and timbers for decking, patio flooring and retaining wall construction. Funnily enough, it takes a bit of extra thought and consideration to get the ‘simple look’ just right. Get samples from your local supplier to find the right combination. Remember to avoid extremes in colour, texture and style. While a minimalist renovation might take more work in the beginning, the reward is worth the effort.
If you’ve been thinking about moving in a minimalist direction with your home or building, talk to us about how to make it happen. Ideally, the new approach will help you focus less on ‘things’, leaving more room to enjoy the experience of your new surroundings.
Image credit: Kari Shea
Planning a garden…
Do you want your garden to be functional, as well as pretty? A well thought out landscape can add value, style and flair to your home, but it can do so much more. Your garden is an untapped resource of flavour, colour and sustainability – why not make it edible?
An edible garden has many virtues, the most obvious being that you can, of course, eat it. There’s nothing quite so satisfying as using herbs, fruits and vegetables that you’ve grown yourself to nourish your family or throw a sophisticated dinner party.
Here at AWG, we do not offer a gardening service, but we do regularly provide the perfect garden framework – fences, garden beds, turf, paths and retaining walls, to neaten up your landscape and make your edible garden a success now and in the future. Our clients bring us their vision, and we find and build a garden structure to suit.
If you dream of tomato plants, rosemary and lettuces all in a row, here are some ideas for where to start with edible gardening.
Beautiful and practical
Edible Gardens don’t have to take the form of a veggie patch. You can scatter edible plants throughout your garden, like small hidden treasures in across the landscape. Edible plants such as red cabbage, nasturtiums and lemon trees look beautiful and can provide pops of colour in an otherwise green outlook. Rosemary can be planted instead of shrubs, and shade-loving herbs thrive under taller trees and fill the space.
Growing food in the Queensland sun
We all know that Queensland summers are hot, so ensure you mulch the area around your edibles, and water regularly. During summer, be prepared to water your herbs and veggies daily if needed! As with any plants, research and choose varieties that are suitable for warmer climates. Where possible, an irrigation system can help automate your watering and ensure your garden stays beautiful, even when you’re busy.
Making the most out of small spaces
We have good news for people with limited garden space – you don’t need a lot of room to grow food. Strawberries, herbs and tomatoes can grow comfortably in pots or smaller areas. A sunny courtyard is an excellent space to grow food, especially if it’s close to your kitchen! In recent years, an expansive selection of dwarf fruit trees has come on the market too, meaning you are spoilt for choice when it comes to small-space options.
Getting started with growing edibles
Never grown edibles before? Here’s a list of easy-to-grow plants, perfect for beginners:
Mint is hardy, delicious and smells great. Pests usually leave mint alone, and it’s not as prone to disease as other plants in the herb family. A frequent watering will keep mint happy in your garden.
Beans are so satisfying to grow because they grow and produce food quickly. A small trellis or a few stakes are all you need to get started. Fertilise your beans regularly to keep them producing!
Lettuce looks beautiful planted in rows, and it’s quick and easy to grow. Plant a new row every couple of weeks to ensure a consistent supply of lettuce for your summer salads.
Create a blank canvas
Whether you’re an advanced green thumb or a veggie garden novice, it helps to have a fresh space to start your edible garden project. Talk to us about creating a blank canvas for your gardening pleasure.
Apples or oranges…
You’d have to be living under a rock to miss some of the incredible ‘bargains’ available to anyone who’s renovating, building or landscaping their home in the current market. These ‘too good to be true’ deals offer anything from pool installation to home extensions at a fraction of the price of most other quotes. In a culture where thriftiness is back on-trend, and where there are entire sites and social media accounts dedicated to grabbing a bargain, it can be tempting to go for the lowest price. But, will the offer be as good as it sounds? Probably not.
A team you can count on
When comparing builder’s quotes, the price difference reflects quality, experience and approach. A reputable builder provides you with a quote that offers the best value, but value doesn’t always equate to price. At Award Winning Group, our philosophy is simple; to build homes as though they’re our own. For us, that means using high-quality materials and no cutting corners. Thus, we expect excellent on-the-job supervision. For this reason, we work with a team of permanent staff we know and trust. Another benefit of hiring a team rather than individual contractors is that we can eliminate potential conflicts between trades.
Built to last
Like any other business, it’s in our interest to be competitive, but there are some areas we won’t waver on. We won’t reduce our price if it means we can’t afford to give your project the attention to detail it deserves. We often work with our clients from conception to turn-key. Later on, we get invited back to renovate another area of the home. Why? We do things properly the first time. If the bitterness of poor quality remains after the sweetness of a bargain is forgotten, the reverse is also true. Our aim is to find a sweet balance.
Cookie cutter quotes
Supporting our clients through the construction process, we provide bespoke solutions which are limited only by imagination. We’re upfront about costs from the beginning. If you’re working to a budget, we work with you so you can make the most of every penny. Many of the deals offered by low-cost construction companies include only base versions of their builds, and anything beyond the base is an added cost you find out about later.
We see home renovation as a shared process. It’s not about us trying to get you to fit a ‘deal model’. We create and construct indoor and outdoor spaces suited to your home and lifestyle. As a result of our focus on using quality materials and ensuring the right level of expertise for each job, we safeguard against costly repairs or changes soon after the build.
It’s pretty simple, as with many things in life, you get what you pay for, and at Award Winning you get high-quality construction solutions which are long-lasting and functional. We hope you also get a quote that represents value for your investment.
Build your own happy returns…
Even if you plan on staying put, it’s helpful to know that the money you spend renovating will bring a return. For our friends the property flippers, a return means short-term monetary gain and the thrill of the experience. For most renovators, improved lifestyle will be all the value they need for many years to come.
Following on from last fortnight’s blog post about renovating without blowing your budget, we acknowledge that cost is a key factor in home renovation decisions. Here are our thoughts on which projects provide the greatest return; increasing your home’s value, as well as your lifestyle value.
Start with the obvious
Kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor living areas sell homes in Queensland. They don’t have to be state-of-the-art; quality fittings and modern design are all it takes to appeal to buyers in most areas.
Think of the people
When we walk into a home, we imagine living there. We consider and often purchase based on the emotional connection. Of course, emotions run hot and cold, and you can’t appeal to everyone. So, we suggest looking at what other people are investing in, in your area. Do you live in a heritage suburb? People in your area are more likely to place emotional value on original fittings that keep with the style of the home.
Likewise, if you’re at the top-end of the market, you’ll get more of a return out of installing high-quality big brand appliances. Whether you’re renovating to sell or to stay – the changes you make will be influenced by the human need to fit in. We’re afraid to say it, but the adage of keeping up with the Joneses applies to renovation investment!
In saying that, you don’t need to end up with a carbon copy of the house next door. Be guided by what’s going on around you, and then add your personal touch. In small doses, the right buyer will also buy into the personal investment someone has put into a project.
Play to their aesthetic
Stump replacement, new wiring and plumbing are all things that make a house safe for its inhabitants, secure your asset, increase its liveability, and provide an investment in health. Unfortunately, if it’s not tangible and can’t be seen, it’s not going to give you bang for your buck in the short-term. The good news is, if you’re planning to renovate as part of a project, rather than piecemeal, these items will come at a lower price and cost of inconvenience. Get them sorted in the context of the big picture!
An instant visual appeal will give you a quick return if selling and a good feeling if you’re putting down roots. Remember, a home’s appeal starts before we set foot on the garden path. A new front door or gate, a neat retaining wall, a beautifully designed low-maintenance front garden, fresh paint and shiny new floors are all worthwhile investments.
Have great expectations
If you have a four-bedroom home, an ensuite is an expectation. The same goes for air conditioning in the main bedroom and living – particularly in Queensland. Ample storage is another deal-breaker. If it’s a problem for you, it’s likely to be an issue for a future owner. Solve it now, add value to your home and to your experience.
Open yourself to possibility
If there were one word we would use to guide your renovation, it is ‘open’. When you open your living spaces, you open your home to return on investment opportunities. No-one wants to live in a rabbit warren except rabbits!
If you’re adding a new deck or extension, make it a useable size – think about the average furniture most families have in this space and allow enough room to dance around it in the good times. Back in the day, a deck was a place to station your bbq; now it’s an extra room.
Probably the most important thing you can do to guarantee a return on your renovation investment is to enjoy the process. There’s no more valuable gain than a feeling of achievement and satisfaction.
A few words from the wise…
If you’ve ever watched The Block or Grand Designs, you’ll know all about the highs and lows of building and renovating. You’ll have seen what happens when a renovation budget gets blown and tempers fray.
Ideally, we all want more highs than lows; in life, and certainly when building our dream home. If there’s one way to ensure you’ll come out feeling great about the finished product, it will be getting the most out of your budget.
Having seen several renovation projects and new builds over the years, and many different approaches, we have a few tips.
Most of us don’t renovate on a whim. We want to solve a problem. We want to realise a dream. In the early planning stages, it’s great to dream big and think of all the possibilities. By doing so, you’ll work out what your end game is. If the end game is to find space, don’t get sidetracked. Make this the priority.
Quality over quantity
Sticking to the budget is a lot easier when you don’t spread your resources across too many areas. There will always be something else you want to do with your home, whether it’s now, or a year or two later and even if your home is straight out of Vogue magazine. It is one of those ironic laws of human nature. We all want just a little bit more.
The seasoned crew knows they can have a little bit more, but not all at once. Instead, they focus on getting this project right. A keen renovator installs quality fittings that stand the test of time. When they come to their next project, they immerse themselves in getting that right and don’t have to focus on unnecessary repairs and maintenance due to low-quality fittings.
If you focus on quality over quantity the first time around, you may appear to be getting less return on investment, but your investment will endure, saving you money in the long-term.
Build a strong rapport with your builder
Talk to your builder about your budget. Find a contractor who operates alongside a drafter and designer to detail your needs from the beginning. The clearer you are upfront about what you want to achieve, the more likely you are to achieve it. Once everyone is on the same page, it’s smooth sailing.
Give yourself a buffer
Let’s go back to that human nature thing. A reputable builder will plan with you to meet your budget and requirements as best they can. They will foresee a lot of the unanticipated costs and raise them with you from the beginning. However, there will always be something unexpected or something that you would like to add ‘while you have the builder there’. Always. Give yourself a buffer of at least five percent of the project cost.
With these few initial thoughts, you are set to be one of the home renovation success stories! Watch out, Kevin McCloud.
It all started with a dream, right?
Or maybe a wish… or even just a whole heap of frustration? We’ve all been there. You kind of know what you want the end result to be – more open space, a functional kitchen, a granny flat, a pool for the Summer. You may even have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to tiles and paint colours. With that kind of inspiration, you are definitely on the right track! So, what’s next?
If you’ve started heading down the path of getting quotes, you know it’s a time-consuming task. Most likely you are receiving quotes with a variety of inclusions (and exclusions), and attempting to compare apples to oranges. If you happen to have landed upon a couple of easily comparable quotes, that’s great! This post may help you with the steps that follow.
The essential steps to a seamless home renovation
Design – A drafter will draw up plans based on your budget and their knowledge of the construction process. You may decide to have designs drawn up separately and submit these to a number of builders to obtain quotes. Alternatively, your builder may organise the design process for you. Ask as many questions as you need to at this stage. This is where you share your dream with the experts. They’ll let you know what will work and what won’t, and possibly give you some options to keep within your budget.
Council Approval – If you have a builder, at this stage they will submit your plans to council for approval and manage this process for you. It always takes a bit longer than you think. This is a good time to talk to your builder about those Pinterest board tiles and start packing up the area ready to move out for construction.
At Award Winning Home Improvements, we have a natural stone range to view in our Brendale workshop. This is the stage in the renovation process when we look closely at your materials list and advise you of the best place to view products in person.
Construction Certification and Documentation – Again, this is a job for your builder and gives you a little more time to prepare for the next stage.
Demolition and Construction (aka the exciting part) – The Construction Manager and On-Site Supervisor are you go-to for communication. If you have a builder you trust, this is the part where you can sit back and watch it all take place.
Cleanup and Handover (aka the really exciting part) – Needless to say, with any home renovation project, there’s a bit of mess involved. At this point, we clean it all up and make sure you’re happy with the final product.
Call in an expert
The Award Winning Group can manage your project from start to finish – from inside to outside your home. We have expert design and drafting staff to make sure your plans are aligned with the final product. In fact, this is probably one of the greatest benefits of our service. However, it’s not the only benefit. Consider us your local Brisbane experts. We are keen to quote on any part of your Brisbane home renovation and give you honest advice so you can make your dreams a reality. Click here to get in contact.